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Into the Howling Hills

 
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andurion
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject: Into the Howling Hills Reply with quote

Hi all, this is my first post on Canonfire. This Sunday the PCs will venture into the Howling Hills, which forms the northern border of Iuz's lands. They were asked to go there by a tiefling wizard in the city of Greyhawk who believes one of the fragments of the Rod of Seven Parts was taken there. The PCs are all level 13, and include (with paragon paths in parentheses):

Genasi Assault Swordmage (Elemental Tempest)
Dragonborn Inspiring Warlord (Platinum Warlord)
Half-elf Protecting Paladin (Justiciar)
Gnome Wild Sorcerer (Fey Beguiler)

The game has two other players who couldn't make it for the beginning of this arc. One will play a controller most likely. I have no idea what the other person wants to play.

What I'm going to do is draw a zoomed-in hex map that focuses on the Howling Hills. I want the PCs to be able to explore the place, looking for the location of the alleged of the Rod. The trouble is, there's not a whole lot of info on the Howling Hills in the 1983 World of Greyhawk setting I'm using (before the Greyhawk Wars, for what it's worth). I basically am just trying to pick other people's brains and see if anyone has some ideas for neat things the PCs can do there.

Here's what the WoG set has to say. The Hills east of the Dulsi River are pretty firmly in the grasp of Iuz. So lots of humanoids, demons, etc. The Hills west of the Dulsi river are sacred to the Wolf Nomads. The western Hills have also been the site of a number of large battles between the Nomads and the forces of Iuz.

From various snippets of info gleaned from the internt, I also know a few other things about the Hills. For starters, this is the homeland of Iuz, from which he began his conquest of the land that now bears his name. There is also a Road of Skulls leading from his old home to his new capital at Dorakaa.

I already have some ideas for encounters, such as the ghosts of a Wolf Nomad raiding party, other adventuring parties seeking the rod, and the like, but I'd be interested in hearing other things people might have done with the place or if there is other published info about it. I know FtA had the Iuz the Evil supplement, but I've had a hard time tracking that down. Does that supplement offer any interesting locales in the Howling Hills?
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aurdraco
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Into the Howling Hills Reply with quote

You may be able to find a copy of Iuz the Evil at a semi-major con that features a decent dealers room. Alternatively, you may be able to legally purchase/download a pdf of it from WOTC or some other location.

Adventures set in the Howling Hills should feature:
Urzun orcs (extra stupid, hyper aggressive orcs who tend to worship Yurtrus).
Fomorian giants who have been driven deeper into the hills by Iuz's forces.

Here's the brief entry from Iuz the Evil, pg. 20:
"The Howling Hills

The Howling Hills don't occupy a huge swath of Iuz's territory, but they are full of hazards, hostile creatures and conflict. Far back in history, invading Oeridian and Baklunish warriors fought savage battles here with indigenous plan folk, and the hills have also been home to long-dead dwarven clans, giants, and humanoids. Fitted with old battlegrounds and burial sites, the Howling Hills are home to many undead, especially spectral types such as wraiths, spectres, ghosts and a handful of banshees. These undead roam these barren lands at night, by no means restricted to their places of burial, Iuz's forces have a tough time watching the Wolf Nomads to the west, dealing with the hostile giants and free humanoids of the hills (gnolls, hobgoblins and flinds), and protecting their keeps, mines and sites of evil, buried magics. The location guide below gives extra details on all these themes and creatures.
The Howling Hills have their own warped "natural" hazards. Bitter winds and drifting, freezing fogs swirl down into the hills from the Cold Marshes throughout the winter months. These winds and fogs are described in detail below in the chapter on the Northern Barrens, with rules for exposure damage."

Iuz the Evil also gives rough details for:
Caves of Drenghuz (shadow dragon lair)
The Groaning Mines (copper and electrum, controlled by Iuz)
The Soul Husk Caverns (too complicated to detail here and way too high level for your party)
Spear Tor (ancient Flan or pre-Flan burial grounds consisting of mazes which lead to more mazes)
The Swirlers (extensive cave system created by dwarves and now occupied by Formorians)
Wegwiur Thralls (important Wolf Nomad burial site)
Xanxeven Point (location where Iuz appears to be experimenting with the effects of some strange elemental magics, guarded by Urzun orcs and possibly visited by Boneheart Halga from time to time)

There may also be more information in the LGG.

Hope this helps!

Casey
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bubbagump
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And welcome to the boards! (Even if you do play 4e). Wink

(*bubbagump grumbles irritably to himself like the crotchety old grognard he is - but he's really an old softy at heart.*)
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andurion
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:09 am    Post subject: Re: Into the Howling Hills Reply with quote

aurdraco wrote:
You may be able to find a copy of Iuz the Evil at a semi-major con that features a decent dealers room. Alternatively, you may be able to legally purchase/download a pdf of it from WOTC or some other location.

I'll look around!

Quote:
Adventures set in the Howling Hills should feature:
Urzun orcs (extra stupid, hyper aggressive orcs who tend to worship Yurtrus).
Fomorian giants who have been driven deeper into the hills by Iuz's forces.

I think it would be rather ironic if fomorian enclaves were "points of light" in the Howling Hills. :) Also, the PCs encountered fomorians and dark fomorian magic in my modified version of P1: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens (I set it in marshlands not far from Greyhawk City).

Quote:
Here's the brief entry from Iuz the Evil, pg. 20:

Thanks for this! I think forging an alliance with gnolls might be an interesting possibility. Choosing between gnoll and fomorian "allies" would definitely be a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. ;)

Quote:
Xanxeven Point (location where Iuz appears to be experimenting with the effects of some strange elemental magics, guarded by Urzun orcs and possibly visited by Boneheart Halga from time to time)

This is interesting ... it might be an good place to put the fragment of the Rod. In the ancient history of this campaign, the Rod of Law bound up enormous swaths of the Elemental Chaos. What that means, exactly, I don't know :) . I may wait until the DMG 2 to delineate specific powers of the Rod.
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andurion
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bubbagump wrote:
And welcome to the boards!

Thanks! I've popped in every now and then as a lurker, but I feel my GH game is really picking up steam. :)
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bubbagump
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

andurion wrote:
bubbagump wrote:
And welcome to the boards!

Thanks! I've popped in every now and then as a lurker, but I feel my GH game is really picking up steam. :)


Then you've come to the right place. There are quite a few here who will be willing to help - myself included, of course.

There are also quite a few people here who are amazingly knowledgeable about both the setting and the game - you could do much worse.
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andurion
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I'd give everyone an update on how the game is progressing. This post is pretty long as we've had a few sessions since my OP. If you're interested, read on ... :)

Everyone's still level 13. The adventuring party consists of the four PCs mentioned in the OP, plus the following:

Warforged Earth Warden (Horned Champion)
Elf Devoted Cleric (Seldarine Dedicate)

Because of a recent change in venue, I suspect we're going to lose the paladin. Which is too bad, I liked that character.

Anyways, the PCs made their first foray into the western Hills seeking out a fragment of the Rod of Seven Parts. As they traveled through the blasted, perpetually overcast land, they came across the site of a battle. Four dead Wolf Nomads lay on the ground. While the PCs were investigating, they found that one of the nomads possessed a map of the Hills. This was the DM map, and I wasn't going to give it to the PCs at first. But, the players thought it was really neat so I'm glad I decided to give it to them.

Anyways, the bodies of the Wolf Nomads reanimated, and a couple of dwarf spirits (including a specter) arose from the ground. The battle was reasonably swift and in the PCs' favor.

Looking at the map, Spear Tor intrigued them, so they set out for that place. They entered the Tor through a small cave, besting the guardians of the first chamber (a level 15 encounter, so it was pretty tough). I treated the first maze as a skill challenge, which they actually succeeded quite easily on. This lead them to the tomb of the first ancient Flan chieftan, who I said was basically an ancient Ur-Flan necromancer and devotee of Nerull. The necromancer's spirit and his servants (who were interred with the necromancer when he died) put up one heck of a fight for the PCs (a level 17 encounter!).

This pushed the PCs to their utmost limit, so they decided to rest up in the secret treasure vault behind the necromancer's sarcophagus. During their rest, they were visited by a couple of sentinel spirits who warned them that the necromancer's spirit was reforming, and that he was the weakest of his fellow chieftans. The sentinels weren't sure where the Rod was, but they gave the PCs a clue suggesting that it might be located in the far eastern Hills, where in lies an entrance to the "Thundering Realm" (an archaic name for the Elemental Chaos).

So the PCs left Spear Tor as quickly as they could. They decided to check out the Groaning Mines location, which was a day or so north of the Tor (I don't have an "official" detail map of the Hills, so sue me if I didn't get it right ;) ).

As they were traveling north, they came across a small band of dragonborn warriors, a dragonborn paladin of Tiamat named Tarano, and a green dragon (Tarano's mount). The evil dragonborn were trying to torture some spirits into telling them where the fragment of the Rod might be (Tiamat has her own designs for it...).

We have a Platinum Warlord in the party, which is essentially a fanatical follower of Bahamut, so needless to say there was animosity. The PCs got the drop on the Tiamat worshipers and attacked, but their advantage was soon lost when the tortured spirits began indiscriminately targeting the living. While the paladin fended off the dragon and the swordmage battled Tarano, the Platinum Warlord rolled some diplomacy checks to convince the ghosts that the PCs weren't the enemy. He eventually succeeded, and the ghosts started attacking only the evil dragonborn. Soon Tarano mounted his dragon and flew away, cursing the PCs during his retreat.

These evil dragonborn were the same ones who had found a fragment of the Rod in the Whispering Cairns, and they slew allies of the Platinum Warlord PC. However, Iuz's forces attacked the evil dragonborn not long after the fragment of the Rod had been found, stealing it.

After the battle, the PCs continued westward. They came across a band of two dozen Urzun orcs, one arctide spiralith demon, and two vrocks lead by an ettin Abyssal shaman. The band had a few wagons with prisoners in them as well. The party tried to sneak up on the band, but they were spotted by the vrocks and combat ensued.

After a tough battle (vrocks have a stunning screech, absolutely killer), the PC emerged victorius and freed the prisoners. Most of them were Wolf Nomads being sent to work in the Groaning Mines. However, one of them was a Furyondian spy named Sir Byron. A member of the Knights of the Hart, Byron had been working undercover in Kendragund for several months. He told the PCs about how the Formorians were being pushed back, and of vicious battles Iuz was having with gnolls. In addition, Byron recently learned of a powerful artifact being located in Xanxeven Point in the eastern Hills, and that the Boneheart Halga was going to arrive there in 4 days. He was going to try to relay this information to his superiors in Furyondy, but he was captured.

This has basically put a timer on the PCs. Halga is an epic level cleric of Iuz and quite capable of trashing the PCs (who, at best, will be level 14 by the time they get to Xanxeven). If they force march, they'll get to Xanxeven in 3 days, but they might be fatigued. They were intrigued by Byron's belief that the Fomorians have portals all over the Hills, so the PCs are seeking out the Swirlers and will try to negotiate with the Fomorians. That'll be interesting... I'm basically going to make the Swirlers in the Feydark, and I'll have an entrance to them deep in the Groaning Mines.

Whew... that's it for now.
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andurion
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My group has delved into the Groaning Mines, negotiated with the fomorians, gnolls, and firbolgs of the Hills (along with a tiefling from the Horned Society), and solved a murder mystery plot where the gnoll warchief was assassinated by a group of drow trying to foster distrust in the fragile "coalition" of the Hills.

Today, they'll be travelling through a bunch of fomorian teleportation circles en route to Xanxeven point, which they'll get to before Halga arrives. There, they'll find a bunch of portals to the Abyss and Elemental Chaos, a partially assembled Rod of Seven Parts (four of the parts!), and lots of trouble ... Evil Grin
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